By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
Enforcing laws against illegal marijuana just got a bit more difficult as the U.S. Attorney General announced that unless someone is selling pot to minors, being violent, illegally using firearms or has obvious ties to other criminal enterprises, federal prosecutors, for the most part, won’t bother with them. The shift in policy will have an immediate effect in some 14 states that have legalized so-called “medicinal” marijuana and will, no doubt, embolden pot pushers in the other 36, including North Carolina, where lawmakers have been less eager to pass state statutes that would contradict federal law.
“This should sound the alarm for state legislators who will surely be assailed by renewed legalization attempts,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “The President may have decided to block enforcement of the law, but that doesn’t change the law nor does it change the fact that marijuana is a dangerous substance and not a proven medication by any stretch of the imagination.”
During the last session of the General Assembly, N.C. Rep. Earl Jones (D-Guilford) floated a bill that would have allowed anyone with a “debilitating condition” to grow a marijuana patch with a canopy of up to 100 square feet and keep an additional 24 ounces of ready-to-smoke pot on hand. Under the proposed law “qualified patients” could opt to name one or two caregivers to grow and handle their marijuana for them. With a doctor’s recommendation and a $10 ID card, virtually anyone could have legally smoked marijuana under the bill’s provisions.
Although proponents of the bill said allowing medical marijuana would bring in an estimated $60 million in revenues annually within four years, they did not include estimates of the costs of enforcing its provisions or for addressing societal problems that would result. The bill never made it out of the Health Committee, but will likely reappear next session, especially in light of this week’s announcement from the Obama administration.
A directive issued by the U.S. Justice Department to clarify earlier statements from Attorney General Eric Holder said “persecution of individuals with cancer or other serious illnesses who use marijuana as part of a recommended treatment regimen consistent with applicable state law, or those caregivers in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state law who provide such individuals with marijuana, is unlikely to be an efficient use of limited federal resources.”
As a candidate, President Obama had expressed support for medical marijuana and promised to end federal raids on dispensaries that designate themselves as medical suppliers. In states that allow marijuana to be used as “medicine,” pot “clinics” prescribe the drug for virtually every ailment from anxiety to back pain.
Jerry Dyer, president of the California Police Chiefs Association, said marijuana use in California — not by the very sick — but by healthy youth and adults is at “epidemic levels” and that the effect on children and families “has been devastating.” Legalized for medicinal purposes more than a dozen years ago, marijuana use has been “destructive to lives and communities” there, he wrote in response to inquiries about medicinal pot. Nonetheless, California may vote next year to fully legalize the substance as users are gathering signatures to put the issue on the ballot.
“Not surprisingly, approving medicinal marijuana is the first step toward full-blown legalization,” said the Rev. Creech. “That’s just one more reason why we need to be vigilant against the push for medicinal pot, even if it’s no longer a priority at the federal level.”